top of page
  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger II

Do Pedestrians Always Have the Right of Way in Tennessee?

Tennessee law states that drivers must yield to pedestrians using the crosswalk. That means that pedestrians will have the right of way in the state. There are actually a couple more pedestrian laws that also aim to protect people walking down the streets.

When in doubt, drivers should yield and allow pedestrians the right of way. In a pedestrian accident, usually, the person walking will be at a higher risk of sustaining major injuries for obvious reasons. It's the drivers, though, who could find themselves in a tough legal situation when these accidents take place. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can also consult on questions like What time do most pedestrian accidents occur?

What Tennessee Law Says About Pedestrians and the Right of Way

What Tennessee Law Says About Pedestrians and the Right of Way

As mentioned, drivers are meant to yield when pedestrians cross the road. This is especially true in legally designated places. When a pedestrian gets hit by a car while crossing the road on a marked crosswalk, the driver is liable for compensation 100% of the time.

If the pedestrian decides to jaywalk to cross the road rather than use one of the marked crosswalks, then the driver has a stronger case to place a portion of the blame on the person walking. Even though people injured by a car crossing the road can still file a personal injury claim, they may not get full compensation if they are crossing in the wrong location.

Since Tennessee Law does, in fact, grant pedestrians the right of way, it's not smart for any of them to decide to cross the street anywhere but a crosswalk. Even if they decide to use unmarked crosswalks, those are still legally designated places where they can cross.

What is a Pedestrian Crossing?

There are marked crosswalks and unmarked crosswalks, but in Tennessee, both are essentially the same thing in legal terms. Drivers are meant to yield at every crossing location, even if it's an unmarked crosswalk that pedestrians use to get to the other side of the roadway.

What does this mean for drivers? This means that if they stop at a red light, it doesn't matter if there are marked crosswalks or not. They are expected to yield and let the pedestrians through. The same goes for stop signs and other traffic signals indicating a stopping point.

When accidents, unfortunately, happen at a designated crossing, the driver will be liable for all of the damage. In the worst-case scenario where a pedestrian death occurs at a crosswalk, the driver will inevitably find themselves in a wrongful death case that could lead to heavy fines and even jail time.

Pedestrians will still have the right of way in adjacent signalized intersections such as Stop signals. Drivers must yield the right of way to pedestrians, whether at a designated intersection or not. That's what Tennessee law requires.

Pedestrian Responsibilities on and Around the Roadways

Drivers can find themselves in a very difficult spot when a pedestrian accident takes place. What about pedestrians, though? What are their responsibilities as they are walking down the road? Pedestrians actually have several "recommendations" that they would do well to abide by.

When there's a sidewalk available, for example, they are encouraged to use it. They are also encouraged to walk facing the traffic. It's easier for a person to see a car coming and get out of the way of the vehicle.

Using crosswalks is a major must for pedestrians. Suppose a driver can prove that a pedestrian was jaywalking in the event of an accident. In that case, they can reduce the compensation that they'll have to pay the pedestrian. The last thing anyone wants as a pedestrian is to nurse their injuries with lower compensation after an accident, all for not using the crosswalk.

Working With an Attorney to Recover Compensation

Drivers in one of these accidents involving pedestrians have the right to argue that the pedestrian may have been at least partially at fault for the accident. Suppose the pedestrian was not using the crosswalk when the incident happened, and the driver could not spot them on time. In that case, there may be a reduction in the compensation. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can explain What happens if you hit a pedestrian jaywalking in Tennessee?

Under Tennessee pedestrian laws, drivers are still at quite a disadvantage. Since pedestrians have the right of way, drivers must yield at all times. Can drivers recover compensation if the pedestrian crosses the road through an unmarked crosswalk? It depends on how the situation played out.

It may be harder to recover compensation if the pedestrian is badly injured. When injuries are deemed too severe, the court won't grant any reductions. That doesn't mean drivers shouldn't get a lawyer in those situations. The right attorney can prevent other charges from being added to the case.

Guidance Through the Claims Process

Guidance Through the Claims Process

Since pedestrians have the right of way in Tennessee, they'll be able to file claims against the drivers who hit them. On the other hand, the drivers have to go on the defensive and, as mentioned previously, will likely try to claim some wrongdoing by the pedestrian.

In all of these cases, both parties are going to be looking for evidence, usually to prove the other side was in the wrong. Pedestrians will have an easier time building their case if there's some injury that they're facing. When they can prove that they did, in fact, use the nearby crosswalks to get to the other side of the road, it will be hard on the drivers.

Experienced attorneys will be able to help build a case for either side. The mistake that anyone involved in one of these accidents can't afford to make is to think they don't need pedestrian injury lawyers in Nashville. This is a common mistake that both drivers and pedestrians make.

Final Thoughts

The laws in Tennessee protect pedestrians even in situations where it may seem unfair to drivers. Regardless of what may seem fair or not, drivers should understand that they must yield to pedestrians. It can be hard, though, to comply, particularly during peak traffic hours with so many cars on the road.

When accidents happen, both sides will benefit from hiring a lawyer on short notice. Since drivers are at such a disadvantage, proper legal counsel becomes a must. It's not just about building a case to limit the amount of compensation that drivers are required to pay.

Drivers can ultimately face very serious charges, and collecting evidence as quickly as possible in these situations is important. Even if the accident doesn't seem too severe, allowing only the insurance company to handle the claims may not be wise.


bottom of page